NEW PORT RICHEY — Just over a month ago, William was on the brink of death. His ribcage protruded through thinly stretched skin and you could see his pelvic bone through missing chunks of fur.
The 2-year-old pit bull mix was malnourished and dearly dead from starvation. His body had eaten away its own musicle mass and was on the verge of organ failure, Saunders said.
Medical tests and treatments racked up more than a $1,000 in debt for William, one of the worst cases of neglect the rescue has seen, Saunders said. Rugaz Rescue, a Suncoast nonprofit organization that rescues and adopts out hundreds of abandoned and neglected bully breed dogs annually, rarely encounters a dog as severely neglected as William was.
Now, his foster family spoils him with treats and love. He enjoys kisses and rolling around in the dirt. He’s eating normally, weighs a chunky 71 pounds and is currently waiting for his “forever family” to give him a permanent home.
“He is still a very sweet, happy boy that wants to see everybody,” said Devilyn Saunders, director of the SPCA Suncoast and operations manager of Rugaz Rescue, the organizations that took William in when he was first found wondering the streets.
For the first two weeks, William underwant regular blood testing and could only eat a fourth of a cup of specialized food every two hours. He went through ultrasounds to make sure his stomach was properly processing the food and had other medical exams and antibiotic treatments.
“He can eat normal dog food now, but we suggest keeping him on a good quality food to keep him from having any issues,” Saunders said.
Now, William is twice the body weight he was when he was rescued and his thick, black fur coat has regrown. Saunders said he is completely healthy and ready for adoption.
Rugaz Rescue has had trouble finding adoptive homes for large-boned, muscular dogs with short snouts from “bully” breeds with reputations for aggression. Saunders is concerned that might be the case with William.
Such dogs were bred to protect livestock and property in England in 19th century but soon made their way into bull-baiting and dog fighting, where they got their reputations for being dangerous and aggressive. Today’s American pit bull terriers, Saunders says, are some of the most sweet-natured, loyal dogs you’ll meet, William included.
The adoption fee is $200, but Willam comes neutered and vaccinated and with an implaned ID microchip. He also has a month of medical insurance.
To adopt William go to www.rugazrescue.com and fill out an application for a meet-and-greet with the sweet pit bull and an interview to make sure your home is the right fit.